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How to Land a Coding Internship

Internships for high school students are a great way to begin gaining experience that is relevant to the industry they hope to enter. If coding is your passion, an internship in this area will help you hone your critical thinking skills and learn how to logically solve problems.

An internship will also allow you to network with professionals in your field. These relationships can often turn into mentorships that will last long after the internship is over. They can offer guidance on how best to prepare for your career, and support when things inevitably feel overwhelming or don’t go your way.

For these reasons and more, landing a coding internship can be an invaluable first step toward an enriching career. But with STEM careers on a historic rise and showing no signs of slowing down, finding coding internships is becoming more of a challenge. Here are some ways to help you feel more confident that your internship application will stand out from the crowd. 

Show Off Your Tech Knowledge

There are a few options available if you want to flaunt your skills before you even walk into an interview. These days, many people are creating a personal website as a way to communicate more information about themselves. A resume can only tell a potential employer so much. A personal website is your way to showcase your personality, your style of design, and your projects all in one place. You can also put unfinished projects on your website as long as you explain that they are still in progress. This shows that you’re always developing your skills. 

Another must-have for any aspiring coder is a GitHub account. A lot of GitHub’s primary features are free, and most of their paid subscriptions are only $4 per month. On this platform, users can share their code with others and receive feedback, track their progress, and contribute to projects that other users are working on. Many professionals recommend treating GitHub like the gym—do it every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes, and don’t wait until things are working perfectly before you try. GitHub also has a feature that displays your streak of publishing code, so the longer this streak is, the more impressive you will be to hiring managers. This level of discipline will also show that you’re the type of person who follows through and will be able to meet deadlines.

Extracurricular Activities

Another impressive resume addition is extracurriculars and hobbies that have to do with coding. Participating in these types of activities will give you plenty of practice and will better prepare you for an internship. 

There are several online coding challenge communities you can join to meet like-minded people and practice as much as possible. Some recruiters may be interested in your achievements in these challenges as they demonstrate your commitment to improving your skills and your current abilities. Some of the most popular communities like this are AlgoExpert, LeetCode, and codewars. If you want to show some initiative, you can start a Hack Club at your school. These are clubs that generally meet for 90 minutes per week and work together to build games, websites, and apps. You can apply to be a club leader on their website to get started. 

Students who enjoy coding and also have a competitive streak are encouraged to look into the USA Computing Olympiad. This competition is held multiple times a year and allows students to compete in multiple programming languages. Students are encouraged to enter as often as they’d like to take advantage of the additional practice. It’s also a great opportunity to stand out during the college application process, especially since many prestigious schools are no longer requiring students to take the SAT and other standardized tests. If you’d like to learn more about what the competition entails, check out some problems from past USACO competitions to see what it’s like. 

Nailing the Interview

Your resume, portfolio, and website got you this far, but now you need to impress interviewers in person. Interviewers usually want to assess a combination of the hard skills and soft skills that you possess. Hard skills are measurable talents and abilities and soft skills are more subjective qualities, like communication and leadership. These are what will demonstrate your ability to fit in with the workplace culture and succeed professionally.

One of the most important things you can do to prepare yourself for a coding internship interview is to regularly complete coding challenges. The more comfortable you are with these types of challenges the better. Interviewers want to see not only that you can solve problems, but that you can explain why you chose the methods you did as it’s even more impressive if you can explain alternative solutions as well. 

When you’re working on your coding challenges in preparation for your interview, it’s a good idea to talk through the challenges out loud. This might feel silly at first, but explaining how you worked things through will help you feel more comfortable talking about your thought processes in a way that others can understand. You could also find a partner in your coding group or at school to do this with. Having a solid coding foundation is important, but some hiring managers will tell you that soft skills are more important, since hard skills can be taught much easier. 

Learn Coding in NextGen’s Summer Classes

If you want to gain experience and boost your resume before you apply for internships, you might want to look into NextGen Bootcamp’s coding classes for high school students. At its Manhattan location, NextGen Bootcamp offers in-person coding courses. NextGen Bootcamp also offers live online coding classes that can be attended remotely from the comfort of your home. 

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